For My Family -


Commemorative Speech Example Speeches

6 th Grade Language Arts

Below you will find a former student’s example of a commemorative speech. Notice the lines about the Lorax Award to show you how you can mention the purpose of the speech: to make an argument of why the person is worthy of receiving the Lorax Award. Note the use of repetition, parallelism, alliteration, simile, and metaphor in this speech. Additionally, note the format of providing a thesis, the categories (the Reason/Detail/Facts) that you want to develop by sharing specific examples, elaboration and explanation that illustrate your opinion of your person.

Additionally, you will find the evaluation checklists we will use to evaluate the presentation of the speech and the composition of the speech manuscript, (the rubric for the manuscript itself is below.)


Lorax Speech

Hank Atkinson, by Valerie Main

Every day people are born and people die. Human beings come into this world and leave it—most without their names being immortalized in any history books. Millions of people have lived and worked and died without making any great claims to fame or fortune. But they aren’t forgotten—not by friend and not by their families. My uncle, Henry (Hank) Atkinson, was one of these very special people. Growing up in the mid

20 th

century, Hank learned the value of hard work on his family’s farm in Barry, Illinois where he woke at 4 am every morning to help feed the sheep and milk the cows. He entered the profession of law as a district attorney for the city of Boston after overcoming a horrific auto accident during college where he was paralyzed from the waist down. In Boston, he spent 50 years of his life prosecuting many of the most vicious criminals the city encountered: murders, child abusers and thugs from various gangs. But is that why he is so special? No. So what made him so special? Why is he remembered not only by friends and family, but by casual acquaintances as well? Very simply, he was the essence of love. More than that, he was the essence of what I think of as

“active” love.

Hank was a compassionate, loving man whose words of kindness, acts tolerance and moments of courage were not empty, they were his way of life; for this I honor him today and dedicate this Lorax award to him.

Hank didn’t just pay lip service to kindness; he lived and showed it on a daily basis. During the Great

Depression he took homeless people off the street into his home when they needed a place to sleep. He gave them food when they were hungry. Though he wasn’t a rich man by any means, he gave them money when he had none. On one occasion his father remembered driving up to the old train station outside of Barry to pick

Hank up who was home for a few days during college and seeing Hank empty his pockets of what ever loose money he had and hand it over to a bedraggled man who looked as if he had nothing to his name. Those people off the street will remember the man who had enough love in his heart to share with them all that he had.

Additionally, Hank didn’t just speak of tolerance; he lived it. During the 1960’s, when his peers were condemning those “long-haired hippies,” Hank would drive in his car, picking up dozens and dozens of those

“long-haired hippies” who were hitchhiking. He would go miles out of his way to give them a ride somewhere.

In the summer of 62, Hank was driving from Chicago to Boston, when he encountered Seth, a young man of 19 who looked and smelled as though he hadn’t seen a shower or a set of sheers in a long time. His green army jacket was as greasy and grimy as his hair, and the length of his beard dangled to his chest. Seth was thumbing his way across the country, “searching for himself.” After a lengthy conversation, he told Hank his mom still lived in Roan Mountain, Tennessee, and that he hadn’t seen her in two years. Hank sensed sadness in Seth, and asked if he wanted to see his mom. Seth said yes, but didn’t have means of getting there. So Hank, though the car reeked of old sweat and dirty clothes, drove Seth 13 hours and 21 minutes out of his way to reunite the


family. Certainly Seth and the dozens of other men and women will remember the man who had enough love in his heart to bridge the gap between his world of suits and ties and theirs to practice the spirit of brotherhood.

Hank didn’t just speak of courage; he proved his courage time and time again. He proved it to a little girl who was trapped in the basement of a burning building. He pulled her out of the flames and gave her back her life. That little girl, now a grown woman, will remember the man who had enough love in his heart to risk his life for a person he didn’t even know. He also proved his courage, in a more personal way to his family. In

1966 he was told he had leukemia and only a year to live. He immediately started chemotherapy treatment, and

I don’t know which is worse—the effects of the disease or the effects of those treatments. In the ensuing year we saw his hair fall out, we saw his skin turn a pasty shade of gray, and we saw him lose so much weight that he seemed to shrivel up into half the size he had been. We didn’t want to see him go out that way. And we didn’t. He fought that disease like a wild animal, with all the strength and courage of a tiger. And despite the pain, he endured; he never complained, and continued to work for the city of Boston. I think about him when I catch myself complaining about my “tons of chores or homework” or a “terrible headache.” And suddenly that work or that headache doesn’t seem so terrible after all.

He lived through that first year, and he lived through eight more, and that disease never stopped him from working, and it never stopped him from caring. All through those years of suffering, he continued to show compassion and tolerance and courage. He died in 1975. And like the Lorax, he left this world without ever making the pages of a history book, but he still left the world a great deal. He left to the people who knew him a spirit that exemplifies life—a spirit of unconditional, selfless and truly inspiring love, and thus is so deserving of the Lorax award.


Main, Phillip. Personal Interview. 16 January 2008.

Phillip was Hank’s brother, and also my uncle. I was lucky to have him as a primary source who knew specific stories Hank told him.

Main, Rufus Henry. For My Family. Chicago: Haymarket Publishing, 1976.

This is a short biography written by my grandfather where I found a lot of the information about events that happened to Hank.



___Introduction gains attention and sparked interest

___Introduces subject clearly

___Provides a clear thesis and establishes person is a worthy recipient of the Lorax Award

___Previews the body of the speech

___Main ideas (Reason/Detail/Fact) are clearly found throughout the speech

___Uses clear and varied transition words and phrases

___Uses specific examples, elaboration or explanation to develop each of the three main ideas

___Prepares audience for ending

___Reinforces thesis and main points in the conclusion

___Ends with a strong final thought


___Deals with topic in a creative way to inspire audience

___Language is clear and concise. Avoids words like “good” and “thing” and vague examples.

___Word choice is vivid with use of language devices such as:



____Manuscript is error free of spelling and punctuation errors

____MLA Bibliography entry at end of speech to document the text(s) or sources read and used


____Began speech without rushing.

____Maintained strong eye contact with all of the audience

____Avoided distracting mannerisms—touching hair, clothes, rocking, nervous movement

____Used vocal variety in rate, pitch, volume to add impact

____Used gestures effectively

____Articulated words clearly

____Communicated enthusiasm for the topic